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enlightenment project

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics, political philosophy alasdair MacIntyre 's term for the pattern of thought that underlies the entirety of moral and political philosophy since the Enlightenment. This pattern seeks to provide us with a neutral ground of morality and political principles. It appeals to pure reason and establishes an abstract and ruled-governed ethics that attempts to justify particular actions by applying universal standards. Yet it rejects teleology and denies that the human race has its own telos to fulfill. Consequently, the distinction between what is and what should be is abolished, and the universal standards and principles themselves lose their necessary framework of values and their grounds of evaluation. The enlightenment project, especially in its liberal individualistic form, emphasizes the free choices and rights of the individual, but disregards the social and historical context in which actual individuals are embedded. According to MacIntyre, the enlightenment project has failed to fulfill its promise, and its failure has led to the chaos of moral values in contemporary Western culture. His After Virtue (1981) aims to identify this failure and argues that the remedy is to replace rule-governed ethics with virtue ethics , and to replace asocial individualism with communitarianism . His characterization and criticism of the enlightenment project has stirred wide ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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